If your company creates documents in-house, you know that your punch binding machine is one very important piece of equipment. Any issues with this machine can mean a slow-down or total stoppage of document production, which can affect your bottom line.
Since it’s the dies in a punch binding machine that take the most punishment, they generally will need to be replaced more often that other parts of punch binder. Here’s how to tell if your dies are wearing out, and how to help them last.
Signs of Trouble
When you start to notice a decrease in punching performance, ask yourself how long the dies have been operating, what type of materials they have been punching, and the number of sheets that are punched each time. All of these can shorten the life of a die.
Certain materials like laminates and cardboards require more pressure to punch through than plain paper. Likewise, the more sheets you punch at one time means greater pressure must be applied by the dies. Over time and/or with repeated high-pressure jobs, the edges of a die will dull and be less effective at punching through your materials, just as a blade will dull when repeatedly struck against a hard surface.
Major red flags are holes with ragged edges and finding little tabs of paper stuck to the holes. You might also see that the punch binding machine is working harder to create the holes. This is because the punch is designed to automatically apply as much pressure as needed create clean holes, and worn out dies require much more force to go all the way through your materials.
In the end, you need decide whether to repair or replace the die.
Should Your Fix Or Replace?
The dies in a punch binding machine consist of two parts: the punch pin and the die body. They work in tandem like the two blades on a pair of scissors and their edges can dull in the same way.
You can start by replacing the pin rather than the entire die. This will improve performance, but it’s often just a stop-gap measure. To return to “like new” punch quality, you must replace both the punch pin and die body at the same time.
A rule of thumb is that you can replace the die pin once, but then you’ll need to install a whole new die.
Care For Longer Die Life
The life of your dies is based almost solely on how hard they have to work, i.e. how much pressure they have to apply over and over again to punch through materials, not how often they’re used.
For example, a punch that runs eight hours a day, seven days a week, punching very thick documents or hard materials could require new dies every few years. The same machine using less paper and less consistent punching pressure might go three to five years without a die replacement, even though it has run the same amount of time.
Oiling your dies will help them last as long as possible. Square and rectangular dies should be oiled after every eight hours of use, while round pins can be oiled for every week of usage. If you’re punching plastics, regular oiling prevents excess build-up on the pins that can increase their size and create larger holes than you need.
Always oil your dies when starting the machine after a long period of inactivity.
The actual oiling process couldn’t be easier. First, remove the die from the machine. Next, pour a small amount of 3-in-1 oil on a cloth in one spot, wrap that around your finger, and wipe the oil along the exposed punch pins. Then flip the die over and do the same on the back side. After oiling, replace the die and run the punch binding machine through a few cycles without paper to distribute the oil and run it again with scrap paper to check for oil spots.
Knowing when to replace your dies is easy, once you understand their make-up and how they work inside your punch binding machine.